Who: Elodie Durande, the nose behind the natural perfume house Ffern. Elodie is based in Brighton, England, where she’s lived for the past 10 years, but she is French by birth, having grown up in rural Normandy. She claims an innate affinity to the natural world, and considers herself lucky to have parents who were equally interested in the outdoors, and took Elodie and her sister travelling from when they were children.
She was very aware and curious about different types of smell from a young age and would play ” Loto des odeurs ” – which translates roughly as scent bingo – for hours as a child . Later, when she went on a trip to Grasse, often called the home of French fragrance, she became aware of the fragrance industry and quickly decided it would be what she did when she grew up.
Fortunately for Elodie, it all aligned perfectly from there, since she coped well with science at school and studied Chemistry after her Baccalaureat in order to enter a Perfumery school. Her career in fragrance started as an evaluator, a job she loved as it gave her an understanding of the industry and the creative process as well as client needs and market products, while sharpening her olfactory skills.
It wasn’t long before she found herself wanting to try to create perfume herself, so with the support of her mentor François Robert, she swapped to train as a Perfumer. Elodie’s now been a Perfumer for five years and has the role of perfumer for Ffern fragrances alongside François.
The brand has a unique take on fragrance selling with its Ledger system and quarterly launches, which has been very successful. With no advertising – or much marketing budget to speak of -it has grown organically from under-the-radar cult name to opening its first store in 2023 on London’s Beak Street, which is where we caught up with Elodie to find out more about her olfactory habits.
Today I am testing a new fragrance I am working on for Ffern. It’s a new project which I’m so excited about but can’t yet reveal the name! This new scent is warm and deep while also carrying a beautiful and delicate florality. With my synesthesia, the best way for me to describe how it makes me feel would be a dark terracotta orange/brown colour with sun-bleached pink hues – the texture is a combination of semi-dry earth breaking into your fingers and the softness of silk.
My daily fragrance ritual truly depends on the reason I am applying the fragrance. If I am applying it because I am testing it, I tend to simply apply it on my wrist so I can easily access it and follow the scent throughout the day. If I am wearing it just for my own pleasure, I tend to spray it on the back of my neck near my hairline or on my clothes on my sleeves or trousers or dress as opposed to spraying it on my chest – this way when by body is in motion, I get a whiff of the scent all day long as my olfactive brain doesn’t get used to the fragrance. It often surprises people but I very rarely wear fragrances! When I am at work during the week I don’t wear fragrance as it would interfere with the projects I am working on and outside of work I often choose not to wear fragrance so my nose gets a break, although let’s be honest – it never really stops! But I do wear fragrance on occasions when going out, so perhaps more for others than for myself, or if I want to test a fragrance I am particularly excited about or I am working on and want to smell outside of work.
What does fragrance mean to you?
Fragrance means EVERYTHING to me! I’m only half joking, as I seriously couldn’t imagine a life without fragrance or more broadly without smells. It is much more than just a hobby or a job, it’s a childhood dream, my career and passion. It’s the perfect combination of science and creativity, a beautiful wordless language which awakens people’s emotions totally effortlessly.
For similar reasons to why I rarely wear fragrance, I mostly like my home to smell as neutral as possible, although I have a soft spot for fresh flowers and fresh eucalyptus and lilies aren’t exactly smell-free. I also really enjoy burning Palo Santo wood to cleanse my house from time to time.
In terms of the unusual aromas, the smell of Playdoh is one I love! So many happy childhood memories. And it’s actually at the centre of a personal side project I am working on at the moment. Second one would be Petrichor, the smell when it rains after a long period of warm and dry weather, this always brings back so many warm, summer memories. I also love ripe mango skin, I think that comes from my passion for travel and I associate it with some beautiful travel memories from Thailand and India. It’s a smell that fascinates me because to my synesthetic-self, it smells cold/green and warm/orange at the same time!